Creative Community initiative connects students with industry

18 August 2021
Students working in the Graphic Design Studio at Falmouth University
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Final-year BA(Hons) Graphic Design students meet 120 leading designers and have over 500 industry meetings. This is the Creative Community initiative. 

As coronavirus spread through the UK, in-person events – whether it be a gig, sporting fixture, or meeting a friend for a coffee – began to fall by the wayside. Steve House, Senior Lecturer for BA(Hons) Graphic Design, was concerned about what the loss of such events would mean for students.

Harnessing the strength of digital

“For many years, our final-year students have had the chance to engage with ‘the Creative Community’ at an annual event I organise at the Design Museum in London, where industry professionals offer feedback on ongoing student projects, as well as discussing career opportunities and how to navigate the industry.

“The event has immense value and takes place at a pivotal moment during our students’ final year of study with us, and I didn’t want them to miss out because of the pandemic.”

Much like many other event leaders, Steve decided to take the Creative Community online. Unlike many other events, taking it online led to significant benefits for all involved.

120 leading designers gave up many hours of their time in over 500 meetings with final-year students, at a crucial stage of their project development. 

Hundreds of meetings were arranged so students could connect with a range of industry creatives – from designers with a few years of experience since graduating through to Executive Creative Directors running international design studios. 

Making valuable connections

Based on shared areas of interest and creative practice, third-year BA(Hons) Graphic Design students were matched up with relevant creatives from leading studios based all over the UK, Europe, America and Australia. 

120 leading designers gave up many hours of their time in over 500 meetings with final-year students, at a crucial stage of their project development. As a result of these new opportunities to connect and share innovative thinking, students were able to build on professional feedback and advice and further develop and improve their project work before hand-in.

It was incredible to see how our creative community of designers, educators and students came together in this initiative to help establish vital connections for the future at a time when students needed it most. 

Maddie Thomas was able to glean some valuable tips from industry professionals. 

“I was so grateful to be able to talk to such a range of creatives in the industry. I got to speak to Flora Fricker who works freelance for TV / Film, Sam Cornwall from Design Studio, Maddy Travers from Bulletproof, Ben White from Charlie Smith Design, Luke Manning from Pencil Studio, Joe Sereni from MSL, Jennie Potts from B&B and Jamie Quantrill from JKR.  

“I learnt a great deal from all of them but there were a couple whose advice stood out for me. Ben opened my eyes to the benefits of working in a smaller studio, like Charlie Smith Design, while pointing out that my skillset may be well suited to a smaller studio. Maddy offered the perspective of working in a large studio like Bulletproof, which looks equally rewarding.

“Both have helped me realise that the best way to discover which sort of workplace is best suited to you is through interning at a range of studios.”

Getting career-making opportunities

Many of the industry creatives have given additional portfolio reviews to students post-graduation, with numerous opportunities being offered as a direct result of the initiative – including work placements and junior roles.

Steve was thrilled to see his event succeed online. “It was incredible to see how our creative community of designers, educators and students came together in this initiative to help establish vital connections for the future at a time when students needed it most. 

“So much support has been offered by our network of industry contacts – many of whom are Falmouth alumni – to help students feel more confident about their work and open up opportunities to get started in the creative industries. 

“Students gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about the experience, and many of the designers got in touch straight after their meetings to say how the chance to mentor students had been so beneficial for all parties involved, and that they’d love to do more with our students in future.

“We will definitely build on the success of this initiative and ensure that our Creative Community continues to thrive.”

 

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